Romance isn’t my favorite genre of story in either books or movies. Just a plain romance novel generally fails to hold my attention; which is why I tend to gravitate toward paranormal romances. I do like the romance element but I need a more substantial story with some type of fantastic element to keep me from getting bored or distracted. I have read a number of authors and books that are considered paranormal romance but Gena Showalter happens to be my favorite. And The Lords of the Underworld is my favorite of the many series she has written and is writing.
The Darkest Touch is actually the eleventh (and newest) book in the series. The Lords of the Underworld are immortal warriors that used to serve Zeus. They were his elite guard. One day they decided to kill Pandora and open Pandora’s box, upset because Pandora was given the privilege of guarding the box. In so doing they released the demons inside and as punishment Zeus then puts the demons inside each of the Lords. Each Lord houses one demon from Violence and Promiscuity to Pain and Misery. For many centuries they a ravage and destroy the world because they do not have control over their demons. Finally they each are able to get control. They split into two groups, one wanting to destroy their enemies the hunters and the others just wanting to live their lives without problems any longer. They rejoin once again when one of them ends up in trouble. The series is about the twelve of them finding love while also searching for Pandora’s box, in order to rid themselves of their demons and live their lives.
Darkest Touch is Torin’s story. Torin is infected with the demons of disease. He can’t have any type of skin to skin contact with anyone. If he touches anyone they sicken with some horrible disease and if they are mortal, die. If they are immortal they may survive but then they become a carrier of that disease and cannot touch anyone themselves. Torin is responsible for many of the plagues that have ravished the world.
All the Lords are very different and have a variety of personalities. Many of their traits are emphasized by their demons. Torin is a loner, he is terrified of hurting someone or causing someone else to be the one to hurt others. Out of fear he locks himself away. He is in charge of the computers and security system keeping him out of action. He hates being left behind and not being able to be around his friends but he believes that it is for the best.
That is until he meets Keeleycael, Keys for short. He meets her in a prison where she is being held, the same prison where he watches, yet again, as his demon kills someone he has become close to. Keeleycael is known as The Red Queen and she strikes fear in every heart whenever they hear her name. She is kind of like a spirit that is in-tune and connected to the Earth. She changes appearances with the seasons and her power is unrivaled.
Like many of the Lord’s stories the two love interests start by either hating each other or highly distrusting one another. Torin and Keys are both out to destroy one another when the story begins. Keys wants revenge for Torin killing a friend of her, (because he touched her) and Torin needs to get rid of her in order to make sure his friends stay safe. For a while they play a game of chase and attack, but as always happens in these stories they realize they are attracted to one another.
Gena Showalter has a kind of formula for her romances, at least for this series. The two love interests are initially only physically and sexually attracted to one another. (An FYI for anyone who has not read this series and is wanting to read it; the series can get very risqué. If it was a movie I would give it a rating of R without a second thought. The sex scenes are very graphic, so be warned if you plan on reading). They berate themselves for the attraction but quickly they realize they can’t shake the feelings. They are drawn to one another and this attraction pulls them together generally forcing them to work together in some fashion.The physical/sexual attraction pulls them together allowing an emotional attachment to begin to grow. In this book especially the, “I want to touch you but can’t,” is played up because of Torin being literally unable to physically touch Keys without grave consequences.
Torin has never been able to let himself be close to a woman and is actually a virgin. He has always been a kind of awkward and solitary man. He doesn’t want to get close to Keys and he hates how he feels but he slowly realizes that he doesn’t care. He values her life above all others, even his friends who are his only family. The Lords are constantly struggling with the idea that they have these demons who can make them to do terrible things and they don’t want to put the women they love in the path of possible death or destruction. All of them are terrified of hurting the one they have come to love and Torin is no different. He knows he could kill Keys and he will not do that, no matter how much it hurts him.
Another aspect of these books I really like is how strong so many of the women are. They do not take no for an answer and they don’t let themselves be pushed around. They don’t do what the men want all the time and they fight them tooth and nail many of the times. (Especially Lucians (Keeper of Death’s), significant other Anya.). Keys has power beyond anyone’s imagination and she is not going to be pushed around or handled with gloves. She has her own doubts about Torin but she fights for him just as much as he tries to fight for her.
Keys is unsure if she can trust Torin at first. She has been in a few bad relationships and as been taken advantage of. She is cautious and doesn’t open up easily. She needs to make sure he loves her and isn’t just using her because she can help him and his friends find a few items and people. As their relationship grows she sees that he would sacrifice everything for her and she lets herself be open to him.
The love story is the main aspect of the books but there is a very detailed and intricate plot that has been twisting and twining its way through all the books. It started with trying to just take out the hunters and find Pandora’s box but a number of new elements were thrown in and the story has gotten too complicated to be summed up here. People are constantly being kidnapped and tortured, one item is found only for something else to go missing or a new thing to be needed. One enemy goes down while another one shows up who is stronger. I love not only the love story aspect but this plot as well. It is full of mythology, mystery and action and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.
There was only one aspect of this particular book I was disappointed with, which may be rectified later. Baden, a Lord who died centuries ago, is finally brought back to his friends but we don’t get a real reunion scene which was disappointing. His whole return actually felt very quick and for a series they has developed so much, this element felt forced and hurried. I hope we get more about Baden in the last few books, and even a book of his own would be nice.
As with many romance novels some of the writing does get repetitive, (you want to touch each other but can’t, we get it), but it doesn’t draw you out of the story. Just as it may get boring or too much a wrench is thrown in putting you back on the edge of your seat. Each Lord, their significant other, as well as some side characters all have unique personalities. No one disappears completely from the story, all of them come back with their lovers and even children.
This is a fun and captivating paranormal romance series that will have you thrilled and anxious while also making you awe at the love story.